Has The Data Revolution Hurt Democracy?




On June 20, 2009, a 26-year-old woman was shot to death in the street in cold-blooded, gruesome fashion in her native Iran. As she bled - the shooting and her death moments later were captured unsparingly on a cellular phone. Grainy video of the incident was posted online. 

At one time, Neda Agha-Soltan's last breaths would not have been witnessed by millions of people. In this case, however, they were recorded, uploaded to Twitter and circulated. Almost instantaneously, the images spread. To Iranians, they were an ugly reminder of autocratic rule younger citizens had hoped to supplant -expectations which, despite exuberance and creativity mobilizing rallies, activists alone were unable to realize. 


The incident followed closely on the heels of the country's imperiled national elections, hotly contested at the time -as the outcomes were widely deemed illegitimate. The images of Agha-Soltan's short life enraged people far beyond the Republic of Iran and became a lasting symbol. Her cause was one that would only continue to arrest the world's attention.


Two weeks after the incident, a former US government official lamented her death. He suggested Twitter, the free social-messaging software used to disseminate the terrifying images, be considered for a Nobel Peace Prize. 


Read the rest here


(Or, want to see another? Try this on Shia Sunni relations in Bahrain. If you enjoy American politics, here is a page with pieces I reported that were subsequently published to the Huffington Post.)